In this week’s installment of Your Twin Pregnancy, I have a vocabulary word for you: “viability.” And why is that word so important at the beginning of Week 25? Because if your twins were born today, they’d have a good chance of survival. Don’t get me wrong, your twins would be much better off if they held on until Week 37 but as we all know, newborn twins often make an early arrival. Yet by Week 25, their little bodies are developed enough where their long-term prognosis is pretty good provided they have access to an excellent NICU (neo intensive care unit). It will, however, be a lengthy stay in the NICU. But advances in postnatal care in the last few years have greatly improved, upping the survival rate of preterm multiples. Hopefully this bit of good news will help you relax and enjoy your last trimester of pregnancy. In the meantime, continue to concentrate on getting enough protein each day, and taking it easy by getting off your feet (preferably lying down on your left side) as much as you can.
Week 25 to 26 is also the time to put the kibosh on any long-distance travel plans. While most airlines will allow women to fly up to about Week 35, women carrying twins are advised not to hit the friendly skies at this point in their pregnancies as there’s a greater increased risk of preterm labor. (But by Week 25, you won’t feel like getting on a plane any way, right?) You might want to consider going on maternity leave at this point too. Understandably, many women simply can’t stop working this soon due to lost wages but for those who are financially able to leave work, it’s something to consider. Why? When you’re home full-time, there’s less stress on your body and more time to devote to your health—like lying down for 20 to 30 minutes several times a day (taking the pressure off your cervix) as well as grazing on a strong diet high in protein throughout the day. Both will go a long way in helping to develop strong, healthy babies, possibly staving off preterm labor.
You’ve also entered a time when your babies will now begin to rapidly put on weight. By Week 26, your twins weigh about two pounds each but during the next month, they’ll double that. That’s a lot of weight! You will definitely find it more difficult to get around so you’d better get a move on finishing the nursery, purchasing your big-ticket items like a double stroller, and filling in your twin layette.
Now is also a good time to put together your birth plan, a written statement outlining your preferences during labor and delivery of your twins. There are plenty of birth plan templates online specifically for moms expecting twins. Look over a few to give you some ideas. For instance, who would you like in the labor room in addition to your husband or partner? (Your best friend? Your mother-in-law? No one?) What about pain medication? If you plan on breast-feeding your twins shortly after delivery, that wish needs to be included as well. Will your twins be rooming in with you or will they stay in the nursery? Again, something to think about and include in your plan.
But a word of caution: Before you start putting your thoughts in writing, you will need to face reality and understand that the day may not go as you envision. Although many women expecting twins hope to have a vaginal delivery, the truth is about 50 percent end up with an emergency C-section. And it’s important that a cesarean delivery is part of your birth plan and that you are at peace with the possibility. Yes, the day that your twins are born is one of the most important days of your life but don’t ruin it by putting huge restrictions or expectations on how you’d like your labor to progress. If you do, you may end up disappointed. Instead be open to many possibilities; be flexible. And, yes, be joyful regardless of how your babies are delivered. Because in the long run, the most important goal of the day is delivering healthy babies. How they get delivered is really secondary. (On the up side, C-section babies come out “picture perfect” when compared to vaginally delivered babies.)
With every day, you are getting closer to meeting your beloved babies. Hang in there as the next few weeks may be a struggle. But trust me, it’s all worth it!